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Hated in the Nation places its deterministic death grip on the internet mob mentality—a “real world” issue that deserves at least some discussion. The final episode of Black Mirror, a police procedural, is an investigation on the mysterious and macabre death of a journalist, smeared by the public after writing a sensationalist piece criticizing a suicide victim. This prompts seasoned investigator Karin (Kelly Macdonald) and her inexperienced partner Blue (Faye Marsay) to look into the circumstances involved the journalist’s case, particularly surrounding her social media attention. Not far into the investigation do the two come across a trend on Twitter in which the ominous hashtag #DeathTo is placed behind the name of an intended target, the journalist being its first victim. Most internet “death threats” are benign, a fact that both investigators acknowledge. However it’s not long after when the two discover that #DeathTo has been linked to another “famous” death—this time involving a rapper (recently vilified for insulting a young fan).
Black Mirror’s sixth and final episode feel less like a noirish mystery, imbued with modernistic critiques on social media, than it does an outlying protest for an online reform. Hated in the Nation is about the investigation of deaths resulting from “internet hate” and it feels about as shallow in its moralistic terms and ostentatious in its delivery than megaphones and protest signs at an outdoor student rally. I do admit that the episode introduces some real topical discussion but there is nothing studious or compelling about literalized murder resulting from “internet hate”. It doesn’t ever transcend that dubious, subtextual, truism. The entire episode, as it turns out, goes about as far with the idea of “killer internet hate” than precisely as that sounds.
Unlike San Junipero or Men Against Fire, Hated in the Nation isn’t insultingly bad—there’s a great atmospheric score by Martin Phipps, solid performances from Macdonald and Benedict Wong, and a hauntingly eerie climactic sequence. Its bleak and sterile environments give the episode a built-in, post-industrial feel (remarking, in classicalist fashion, how far removed society feels in its Technological Age). About half-way into the episode the concept of “killer robot bees” (which is exactly how it sounds) are introduced into the story. Just when the show seems close to falling into the deep end, and into b-movie schlock territory, it actually begins to resonate with the episode’s very real concerns about people—by the thousands—formulating into hive-minds and aggressive swarms of masses, affixed to hate fads with the mindless conformity of sheep.
Despite some thematic elements cohering effectively in Hated in the Nation, I couldn’t call the episode an auspicious conclusion to Black Mirror. Running at 90 minutes it’s easily the series’ longest episode, and even then, it still feels thin and terribly sparing of any real insight. The ending of the episode comes off the as the most surprisingly conflicting (and not in a good way). It seems to completely go against the show’s fundamental notions of “internet injustice” being faceless and, frequently, unanswered. Nevertheless, there’s definitely something there. What it lacks in thematic conviction, and an “open mind”, it can at least provide in foundational truths and reasonably entertaining, if somewhat unreasonably narrow, storytelling.